El Salvador launches ‘Community Policing’ program

El Salvador launches ‘Community Policing’ program

By Dialogo
October 30, 2014




The government of El Salvador is launching an ambitious new “community policing” strategy to combat the violent street gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 (M-18) and other criminals.

Law enforcement officials have deployed specially-trained members of the National Civil Police (PNC) to 129 Community Police patrols in municipalities in the San Salvador metropolitan area. More than 60 of these patrols are in the capital city of San Salvador.

The new security circuits are part of a broad public safety plan that President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, National Police Chief Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde and Security Minister Benito Lara publicly announced in August.

Eventually, Community Police patrols will be deployed throughout the country. They work closely with the residents of their beats, getting to know the people and merchants of their assigned areas and establishing trust with them. In addition to performing customary police tasks, such as investigating crimes and making arrests, Community Police agents pitch in to help residents improve their neighborhoods in a variety of ways - from helping people paint over gang graffiti on walls to digging ditches to prevent flooding. They also work in cooperation with neighborhood groups to try to identify potential problems and to intervene with youths who are at risk of becoming involved with gangs, drugs, and crime.

Law enforcement officials have been preparing for the launch of the Community Policing initiative for several years. More than 90 percent of the PNC’s 23,000 officers have received training in community policing techniques. And some of that training has been provided by the United States government, which is also providing vehicles, computers and communications equipment for the Community Policing program.

A ‘new vision’ to ensure public safety: analyst


The approach will also help PNC officers build a rapport with the civilian population.

“This new vision the National Police is implementing to ensure public safety throughout the country is an important step in building a better relationship between communities and security agents,” said José Humberto Morales, a researcher at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the University of El Salvador.

“Security agents are in search of a new relationship with the community, through a greater presence in neighborhoods, to allow people to identify their officers. In turn, police will be able to identify problems in the community. This is altering the conditions in the community in a positive way. The presence of Community Policing officers will help prevent criminal activity.”

Community Policing is part of the PNC’s broad strategy to fight crime. The strategy calls for diverting at-risk youths from gangs and crime and building a rapport with civilians, who can provide police with information about criminals and their activities.

For example, the PNC also operates the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program in some schools. Under the program, PNC officers teach at-risk youths how they can avoid joining gangs. GREAT instructors have taught at least 9,000 at-risk youth since 2013.



The government of El Salvador is launching an ambitious new “community policing” strategy to combat the violent street gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 (M-18) and other criminals.

Law enforcement officials have deployed specially-trained members of the National Civil Police (PNC) to 129 Community Police patrols in municipalities in the San Salvador metropolitan area. More than 60 of these patrols are in the capital city of San Salvador.

The new security circuits are part of a broad public safety plan that President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, National Police Chief Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde and Security Minister Benito Lara publicly announced in August.

Eventually, Community Police patrols will be deployed throughout the country. They work closely with the residents of their beats, getting to know the people and merchants of their assigned areas and establishing trust with them. In addition to performing customary police tasks, such as investigating crimes and making arrests, Community Police agents pitch in to help residents improve their neighborhoods in a variety of ways - from helping people paint over gang graffiti on walls to digging ditches to prevent flooding. They also work in cooperation with neighborhood groups to try to identify potential problems and to intervene with youths who are at risk of becoming involved with gangs, drugs, and crime.

Law enforcement officials have been preparing for the launch of the Community Policing initiative for several years. More than 90 percent of the PNC’s 23,000 officers have received training in community policing techniques. And some of that training has been provided by the United States government, which is also providing vehicles, computers and communications equipment for the Community Policing program.

A ‘new vision’ to ensure public safety: analyst


The approach will also help PNC officers build a rapport with the civilian population.

“This new vision the National Police is implementing to ensure public safety throughout the country is an important step in building a better relationship between communities and security agents,” said José Humberto Morales, a researcher at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the University of El Salvador.

“Security agents are in search of a new relationship with the community, through a greater presence in neighborhoods, to allow people to identify their officers. In turn, police will be able to identify problems in the community. This is altering the conditions in the community in a positive way. The presence of Community Policing officers will help prevent criminal activity.”

Community Policing is part of the PNC’s broad strategy to fight crime. The strategy calls for diverting at-risk youths from gangs and crime and building a rapport with civilians, who can provide police with information about criminals and their activities.

For example, the PNC also operates the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program in some schools. Under the program, PNC officers teach at-risk youths how they can avoid joining gangs. GREAT instructors have taught at least 9,000 at-risk youth since 2013.
In theory, the community policing program is perfect; however, the police alone won't resolve it. The government has to do its part as social promotor by working in the area in question (gaining territory) through education, healthcare, sports and culture, not only machine guns and weapons from the government. The needs of the poor need to be met. This is how you combat crime, drugs, ang gangs in these areas, with social programs and policing. If the government decides to use weapons alone, this policy will fail!
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